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NO BUDGET, NO BREAK, PATAKI TELLS LEGISLATORS

Forget about state legislators sunning themselves in Bermuda or trekking around Europe while the state budget goes unresolved.

Gov. Pataki on Tuesday night struck down a plan circulating at the Capitol over the past week to give legislators, staffers and lobbyists an August break from the budget impasse. The idea of a summer break had been met with sharp criticism from government reform groups, as well as even many legislators.

Privately, however, many legislators had been urging their legislative leaders to press for a six-week break.

"I don't think it's appropriate. I think it's important that we resolve these issues and allow the state to move forward, and I don't think any extended process at this point is the right way to go," the governor said.

The decision means the Legislature will continue returning to Albany one day a week -- as it did Tuesday -- until a budget agreement is reached. The budget was supposed to have been in place by April 1. It is the latest budget in the state's history.

About the only agreement reached Tuesday at the Capitol was a decision to change the day the Legislature will return next week to approve emergency bills to keep the government running. A state bar exam is slated for early next week in Albany, a test that has hotel rooms booked in Albany, so legislators will be coming back on Wednesday.

While the public has put little pressure on lawmakers and the governor to resolve the budget stalemate, a new poll suggests they do care about the issue.

Fifty-seven percent of residents polled said the late budget is "a very serious problem," according to a poll by Quinnipiac College in Connecticut. Nearly 70 percent of upstaters said it is a very serious problem, while the number dipped to 50 percent for New York City residents.

As for who's to blame, 9 percent said Pataki, 20 percent said the Legislature, and 68 percent said both.

One of those "serious problems" emerging from the late budget will affect school districts in the coming weeks. With tax bills ready to go out in some areas, schools don't know for sure how much to tax its residents.

Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno said the school budget situation will have to be resolved in the next 10 days in order to avoid disruptions for districts.

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